Less than four months since 20 children and six educators were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the television show “Glee” depicted a school shooting in Thursday night’s episode.
The episode, titled “Shooting Star,” began with a disclaimer reading, “This episode of ‘Glee’ addresses the topic of school violence. Viewer discretion is advised.”
Halfway through the episode, Will Schuester, the glee club coach played by Matthew Morrison, gathered his students in the choir room to begin their practice.
“Let’s get started,” he said, clapping his hands together as a gunshot was heard in the background. A second shot rang out and Schuester and a coach ran to shut the door to the choir room. They quickly moved students to secure spots in the classroom, hiding them behind speakers or in far corners.
“Start texting, tweeting, let everyone know what’s going on but don’t tell them we’re here. Alright? Shooters have smart moves too,” Schuester said to the teenagers.
“I love you guys,” he told them.
For ten harrowing minutes, the students and two teachers were trapped in the classroom, sending texts to their loved ones and filming videos of each other in case they didn’t survive. One student tried to leave the room when he realized his girlfriend was missing, but the teachers restrained him before he can leave.
In a different scene, one cheerleader stood atop a toilet in case the shooter tried to enter the restroom. She and two other students were eventually rescued by Schuester, and the SWAT team rescued the students trapped in the choir room.
“I’ll never forget the look on their faces when that gun went off. Something was taken from them. Their innocence, their idealism, their feeling of safety,” Schuester later said as he watched students pass through metal detectors set up at the high school following the shooting.
Sue Sylvester, the cheerleading coach played by Jane Lynch, eventually turned herself into the school principal, saying she accidentally shot the gun, which she kept in a safe at school to protect herself and students in light of recent gun crimes.
“It’s registered. I have a license for it. I’m sorry, but in light of recent events, I feel more safe with it in my office,” Sylvester said. “It’s a different world from when you and I started teaching…the safety net of the public mental health system is gone. Parents with troubled kids are too busy working three jobs to look after them. And the gun yahoos have everyone so worked up about Obama taking away their guns has a readily available arsenal.”
But as the show ended, Sylvester revealed to the viewer that the gun actually belonged to Becky Jackson, a teenage girl with Down syndrome played by Lauren Potter.
“I was scared coach, about graduating, being out in the world. With no one to protect me,” Becky said as she showed Sylvester a gun she had brought to school. “I wanted to be prepared and protect myself. I need help.”
“It’s my dad’s. I wanted to be ready,” Becky said. As Sylvester tried to convince her to hand over the firearm, Becky accidentally shot the gun twice, setting off the series of events highlighted in the episode.
Ahead of the “Glee’s” airing, the Newtown Action Alliance sent an e-mail Thursday with a warning from a Newtown organization about the sensitive nature of the “Glee” episode.
“I would suggest if you do watch this TV show to either not watch it tonight or watch with caution,” the message read.
Ryan Murphy, the co-creator of “Glee,” tweeted last week that he was excited about the episode.
“Just saw the rough cut of next week’s “Shooting Star”. It is the most powerful emotional Glee ever. So proud of the cast & crew,” Murphy tweeted last week.